Families Will Survive on $13/Day to Protest the Defunding of SNAP Programs

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By Kevin Dedner, MPH

“She has eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and is collecting veteran’s benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She’s got Medicaid, getting food, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income is over $150,000.” 

Fascinating story, isn’t it? One problem- she doesn’t exist. But, this is the story that Ronald Reagan repeatedly told during his 1976 Presidential Campaign. Unfortunately this is the image of those who need public assistance and it has become cemented in the minds of many Americans. There is a continuous effort to ensure that no one takes advantage of public welfare and especially food stamps.

Last week, by a narrow vote, the House of Representatives voted to slash the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-SNAP (a.k.a. Food Stamps) by $40 billion over the next ten years.  Leaders in support of the measure cited the extraordinary growth of the program over the last five years as a reason for reducing funding. It is true SNAP has experienced tremendous growth with the decline of the economy, and more people have found themselves relying on the program. In fact, one in seven Americans – about 46 million people – are relying on SNAP for food.

The measure seems to be more of an attack on the poor than an effort to control government spending. (And I am at a loss: We have money to bomb Syria, but not feed our poor?)  The requirements within the measure are akin to the similar efforts we’ve seen at the state level, which are making it more and more difficult to gain access to nutritional assistance. There has been a great deal of activity around the country in this arena. In almost every corner of the country we have seen efforts to reduce access to nutritional assistance from fingerprint imaging requirements to photo ID requirements and enhanced income verification, all requirements which create a barrier to access. There have also been several bills which would require random drug screening and proof of US Citizenship for those who receive nutritional assistance.

Overall, these efforts have not had much success at the state level, but it seems that Congress has embraced the spirit of these bills and is dead set on making the tenets reality for all of America. The measure passed by Congress would limit the time recipients could get benefits to three months. The bill would also restrict people who are in other social welfare programs from automatically becoming eligible for food stamps. The bill also clears the way for recipients to be tested for drugs. I take issue with these requirements. We should not be treating welfare receipts like criminals and governmental support ought not to be like criminal probation.

There seems to be a common notion that welfare recipients are getting over on the government and taxpayers and that they have done something wrong – that they deserve this treatment.

Thirteen dollars a day. That’s what a family of three gets from SNAP benefits, on average. Although the economy has continued to improve, unemployment is still at 7.3%, and that rate is double for African Americans. In addition, the poverty rate is at 15%.  According to a Census Bureau report released this month, SNAP has kept about four million people above the poverty line and prevented millions more from sinking into poverty. Clearly there is a need for SNAP.

To show solidarity for those who will suffer from this defunding and those who struggle to provide for their families at current levels, my family and I will participate in a SNAP Challenge for the next five days. Our family of four will survive on $13 each day in an attempt to bring light to the challenges of surviving on the meager benefits currently given by SNAP. If living on $13 a day to feed an entire family is already difficult, what are families going to do when budget cuts go in effect? Defunding SNAP will have disastrous effects on millions of families across the nation. We must petition our government to return funding to SNAP.

You can join the Forward Solutions SNAP Challenge by visiting our Facebook page or following us on Twitter. I want to know how your family survives on $13 a day and the challenges you face. Share your experiences and let America’s families who survive on SNAP know that we care, and we are fighting with them.

 Kevin Dedner is the Managing Director of Forward Solutions. His unique background combines grassroots organizing, public health policy development, and administration. Dedner is a graduate of the University of Arkansas with a degree in Political Science and also holds a Masters of Public Health from Benedictine University.

 Forward Solutions is a consulting firm committed to helping organizations analyze complex public health and socially pressing challenges- to make wise decisions that enable them to meet their goals.

We are committed to building strong communities and the people in them. It is our passion to mobilize organizations to serve at their highest capacity. Forward Solutions is based in Washington, D.C.







  1. sharlyne

    September 27, 2013 at 6:03 am

    Sterotype is one thing , and a fact is another.not everyone is using that money for that purpose. Everyone situation is different , that monry is not liviable its temporary and some live with others , some go to school, work and recive welfare, so dont care. But to see a few bad apples and sterotype it based off race that shows real ignorance. Dont know what country your from but where i m at the same rules apply. But lets get deepier on a top since you went to base it off race. Most blacks grow up in a fucked poverty no saving bond, no inheritencemoney no family esc. Who brought drugs to the streets? Why did blacks originally start srlling drugs? Why is it that so many blsvks are in jail or dead? Why cant our kids get aceducation andcfeel safe while doing it? All these questions that nobody want to answer but quick to sterotype r/s . The governorment isnt helping the problem there making excuses, they messed up money . Seriously do ya homework before you comment on something. Cause def. Too offense to your rasict coment

  2. Amazing Grace

    September 27, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    @brassknucklesntats, you are one misinformed idiot!! Whites receive welfare far more than African-American’ . If your going to come at us have you information straight or don’t bother coming At All!! 😀 – 😀 = 🙁

  3. John Butner, III

    September 29, 2013 at 3:48 am

    This is what happens when you watch news that would rather state biased jargon than actual fact. you end up sounding just like Ronald Reagan at the beginning of this article. the more i see this, the more i realize america is nothing but a popularity race that has lost its soul to its financial system

  4. T

    September 29, 2013 at 11:20 am

    @brassknuckles … WOW! I don’t even know where to begin with your level of ignorance. Bottom line, “I” am a caseworker for the SNAP/TANF/Medicaid program. We do mostly PHONE INTERVIEWS so NEWS FLASH you racist pos, WE DON’T KNOW PEOPLE’S RACE OVER THE _#!!&*£ PHONE. I absolutely KNOW there needs to be reform in the system but BUT people like YOU set us BACK hundreds of years … let alone hindering progress. … #ugh #ridiculous #relic

  5. Jackie

    September 30, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Being poor takes skills, not everyone is an abuser but as we all know it only takes one to spoil things. I know people who only get $10 in SNAP benefits a month. Tell me what can you buy with that? you cant even feed your dog.

  6. recklessbby

    October 7, 2013 at 8:48 am

    I think that its crazy how they categorize us, I know people who have really good jobs and get snap. Not all people are trying to use and abuse the government. People need to act like adults.

  7. לאורקס - laorex

    October 17, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Hello there, I found your site by way of Google while looking for a similar topic, your website came up, it seems good. I have added to favourites|added to bookmarks.

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